Another Wonderful Dinner at Chi Spacca
Ah, another wonderful night at one of my favorite establishments. As always, the service was impeccable, and the night was a genuine joy.
I went with my brother and cousin, one of whom is a vegetarian, making this dinner somewhat less meat-centric that my previous ones.
Interestingly enough, we were able to be accommodated even in this house of meats. They've added a preserves, and cheese section that helped a lot.
We started with the foccacia di recco, which remains possibly the best bread and cheese combination in LA. Gorgeously crispy, and flakey with that specialty cheese inside that is so magnanimously stretchy. The salt and olive oil that adorn it are the hallmarks of simplicity. My brother said, "this may be the best pizza at Mozza", haha.
We moved on to a plate of pecorino, candied walnuts, and honeycomb which comes from their own bee farm on top of the Mozza complex. The honeycomb was remarkable. Thick, tangy, saccharine...quite interesting. It was a natural pair with the semi-hard pecorino block, and the wonderful walnuts. A pretty classic cheese and nut board, but the specialty honeycomb really made it something top notch.
Next, some preserved artichokes. Very pleasant, especially with the onions. Simple, full of flavor, and just pleasant.
Then mashed potatoes. Silky smooth here. Have had them before. Possibly the best mashed potatoes in LA for a certain kind of mashed potato person. They are super simple, but the texture is like that of an ultra-thick cream as opposed to most mashed potatoes. Someone must be really mashing them for hours and hours.
Parnsip fritti were present, and were absolutely stunning. Kind of like french fries made with parnsips. They were better than pretty much any french fry I've ever had though. They had a crispiness to them, but then also that hearty root flavor as an undercurrent. Dusted with a bit of salt, and dipped into the lemon aioli they came with, they had a remarkable zing to them that was counter balanced by the earthiness of the parsnips. There was some fried sage leaves as well, which are always delicious, and added an additional "herb-y buttery" flavor. A sleeper hit for sure.
Finally, the pork loin al latte. Never had this before. Don't see it on many menus, and very very excited to try it. Have been dreaming about it for the past few nights. It's a stunning presentation, and a gorgeous rendition of pork loin. Served med-rare, the meat was perfect. But there was also a mound of fried sage adorning the pork that brought out the porcine flavors in a unique way. And then...the cheese. Yes, the pork loin is cooked in milk, the because a kind of cheese in sauce. The sauce was like crack. Savory, salty, bliss. But the cheese in it was something else. Tangy, stretchy crisped from some time in a pan in some places. It was the most unique preparation of pork loin I've probably had. So grand, so beautiful. I just don't ever seen to eat things this amazing anywhere else in LA.
We finished with the classic tiramisu. We also had a bottle of the barbera blend, which tasted great at a mere $50 for the bottle. Light, a little frizzy, with forward cherry notes. Very nice.
With the excellent selection of jazz, and perfect acoustics, it was another sublime experience at the hands of the masters.
Are they? It seemed different to me.
It's definitely sliced differently.
Between the two it's a tough choice. The belly on the Tomahawk is awesome, and that fennel pollen rub. But the sauce on the loin, the sage, and the cheese are all amazing in their own way.
It seems like the different cooking processes make for different textures of meat as well.
They certainly seem unique enough. But most likely you're right.
Wonder what they do with the belly sections of the loins they use for the loins, and not the tomahawks then?
Yeah, probably so.
Did you know that Chi Spacca is riffing on Park's BBQ's short ribs with theirs?
I always steered clear of them, but I just learned that at the last dinner and am really considering ordering them next time.
Also, they took the amazing chicken diavola off the menu sadly, and replaced it with a crispy flattened chicken, that comes with mussels and fries. I am not sure how to feel about that.
I still have to go back for the veal rack though!
Pizzeria Mozza Newport has the pollo alla diavola under their Piatti section. I was actually pretty sad when they replaced the chicken with sausage, peppers, and broccoli with the alla diavola.
And of course at the LA branch there is always the chicken wings alla diavola which is one of my favorite al forno dishes.
Does Chi Spacca dining really feel like Mozza dining to everyone else?
i get that little inflections that mark it out as such, for example, what seems to be Mozza's signature fried sage leaves (from their Bianca pie, my personal favorite at the pizzeria). And the Pane is the same thick-cut mozza bread, except with whipped lardo, or 'njuda.
But overall it feels like a distinctly non-Mozza experience to me somehow.
The level of cooking there outshines both the pizzeria (to be expected) and the osteria to me.
However, I have begun to realize that I am not entirely sure how Italian of a restaurant Chi Spacca is. I guess that is largely philosophical, but, for example, their beef and bone marrow pie is lifted and modified from a cafe in Melbourne, Australia. Their short ribs are directly influenced by Park's BBQ (though rubbed in that same Mozza porcini rub on the osteria's ribeye)...Korean-Italian fusion?
But the menu's are in Italian.
Is that just what we call Cal-Italian? Or is it something else entirely?
Pane Bianco and salumi are from P.Mozza. I've had the lamb stracotto at P.Mozza.
The Korean style ribs (per Nancy, the secret is marinating in pineapple juice) and bistecca were all from the Tuscan Beef Mangiare in Famiglia dinners before Chi Spacca opened. My favorite was the whole coda alla vaccinara. If they brought that to Chi Spacca I would definitely be there!
"Pane Bianco and salumi are from P.Mozza."
That is most assuredly incorrect. Chad Colby designed his own salumi program back when it was the Mozza Scuola di Pizza. He set the city standard for in-house cured meats program (the only one certified by the city of LA). And all of the salumi at Chi Spacca is taken from his personal program of in-house cured meats.
Or did you just mean that the Chi Spacca program supplies P.Moz now?
"If they brought that to Chi Spacca I would definitely be there!"
Have you ever been to Chi Spacca then, or you're holding for for that dish to make an appearance?
I'll ask about it next time I go. Maybe they'll put it on the menu.
Or did you just mean that the Chi Spacca program supplies P.Moz now?
They've been curing their own salumi and supplying the Mozzas with said cured meats long before Chi Spacca opened.
I don't know when they transitioned partially or entirely from Armando's salumi to Colby's in house production but it's been there for a while now...at least a year or two before Chi Spacca opened. See my 8/25/10 post in the above link where I mentioned that they were already doing their own salumi for the pork dinners.
Yeah, sorry, I forgot, Colby's meats are specifically dry-cured.
Or, what is to be made of this LA Weekly article from 2012?
"Not only has Colby gone through the laborious process of actually making the prosciutto, speck, coppa, pancetta and Parking Lot Capocollo (Colby has a garden in a patio over the actual Mozza parking lot) himself, but he's also jumped through the seemingly endless Health Department hoops required. Thus, thanks to Colby, Mozza is now the only restaurant in Los Angeles approved to dry-cure salumi in-house and serve it to the public. Ta-da."
Given that the sculoa evolved almost directly into Chi Spacca I sometimes count them as the same thing. Is that what you were referring to, or something else?
I guess I was thinking more of Colby as opposed to Chi Spacca (Chi Spacca seems to be just the current name tag of what has always been a kind of place for Colby to explore his various obsessions from all of my experiences with him).
Not sure. It's rapidly become my favorite restaurant in LA though. I have never tasted anything I would even call mediocre there, and I have been steadily working my way through the entire menu (I've had probably 80% of it thus far).
It is one of those places where the food is so good that I really am not sure how much better food can actually taste.
And really, it is a very LA kind of place. The best kind of LA dining. Lots of influence running through a traditional-ish core.
Dinners (with drinks) tend to run about $85-$125/person, but somehow I am always happy to pay whatever they ask of me.
Actually, the only qualm I have with them is that the pricing of the bistecca's seems off to me. They're a good 2x the price of the other most expensive items, and it's difficult to tell exactly why. My experience with the bistecca there was great, but I would rank it the lowest of all my dinners there funnily enough, and it was by far the most expensive.
I anticipate the relatively new veal rack being absolutely prodigious though. That's the next item to be ordered. I can hardly wait!
I hear ya! I was just there a couple of nights ago..yes, amazing meal. Reminded me so much of a traditional machelerria in Italy (like Ca Dario). Loved to see Nancy Silverton working the orders behind the counter in her apron at Osteria Mozza. Joe Bastianich having his meal at Chi Spacca…I was trying to see what they were having at their table..just to try it out.
The experience, the food, the service were all en pointe. I was actually worried at first since I know a lot of the Battali establishments have absentee chefs. To see the owners there really helps a lot.
What we ordered:
-Salumeria Platter- the trotter croquettes were the bomb and all the salumerias were so rich with good fat content..sublime.
-beef and bone marrow pie. Very decadent and rich but the texture and lightness of the crust gives it great balance. Will order this again when we return.
-parsnips fries- I totally agree with Bacoman..as above.
-meyer lemon crostata was perfect way to finish off the meal. Just the right amount of sweet, tart and crisp.
I go pretty consistently, and every other item is just as good, if not better than the bistecca.
The tomahawk pork is really, really great, but most everything else is up to that standard. I have eaten almost the entire menu, and I have yet to come across a single dish that has even fallen into the "mediocre" range.
What do you usually like at other restaurants? I can make recommendations to you specifically if you like based on what you usually like (although nothing at Chi Spacca is really like anything anywhere else).
Bacoman I knew you would be the person to turn to regarding Chi Spacca. Thanks for the help. To be honest, I haven't been to a "meat-centric" restaurant in a while. I'm so used to small plates at the moment...a la Trois Mec, Alma, Taco Maria, Bucato, Bestia. And other than that I've been doing lots of Mexican/Thai/Asian. Spots like Night + Market and Starry Kitchen, those types of places.
I really can't remember the last time I ordered a dish of meat that cost more than thirty dollars/was expecting to be the majority of my meal. At the above places, I'll generally order something like a sea bass or some other type of seafood dish.
But to answer your question, I was recently really impressed by Park's BBQ but it seems too easy to order the spare ribs at Chi Spacca. I like gamier things (quail, elk, bison) so if I go to a place like Drago Centro or Marouch I'll order something like boar or quail rather than whatever pork or beef cuts they have.
But please recommend! I know i'll do the focaccia di reco and other than that I've not an idea. Heck, what would you order if you were not getting the tomahawk or the bistecca?
Indeed...I apparently made an error when picking my screen name haha
Are you planning on dining solo if you go to Chi Spacca? I have, admittedly, never gone solo. It's a little bit harder to try to go there alone, but it could be done.
Based on what you've said, I think you would have a hell of a good time if you ordered the Moorish Lamb Shoulder Chop at Chi Spacca. It's a bit gamey, with interesting spices, and an incredible yogurt sauce. Unlike any other lamb preparation I've had anywhere else.
You also might enjoy trying to 'nduja they recently added. It's very good, and actually very spicy. It's not quite your standard dish. Great compliment to the salty, oily, cheesy crunchy glory of the focaccia.
Get a side of the parsnip fritti, too. They're absolutely incredible. And if you haven't had what amount to fries made out of parsnips you are in for a real treat.
Dessert...if you really like tiramisu, they do an incredible version there. But the meyer lemon panna cotta is also great, and is lighter and more "refreshing".
Of course, if you go alone, you will be VERY full from all of this.
There are many paths you could take going through Chi Spacca's menu though.
You could order a whole branzino for example. Or you could get razor clams instead of the focaccia (if there are two of you, you probably could just add the razor clams on to your order).
They also recently added a chicken dish with mussels and fries that you might look into; although I haven't got a chance to try it yet myself.
Next time I go, I will probably order the short ribs, and the chicken & mussels with the insalata misticanza, and roasted cauliflower (plus the focaccia, most likely). Unless they bring back the triple bone veal rack *crosses fingers*.
I went again last Friday with two newbies.
The only disappointment of the night was that the triple veal rack was taken off the menu because of lack of orders =(
But, they added a smaller portion of veal breast that was essentially an oven roast porchetta-like preparation (but lacking the crispy skin). The meat broke apart at the prodding of a fork, and the unctuous fat was utterly ridiculous in the most sinfully sumptuous of ways. Certainly worth ordering if you are a fan of fatty glory.
The cured meats board was incredible, as always. The meats always have fascinating, subtle flavors to them. And those trotters remain a constant, going sublimely with the house made pickles.
The foccacia di recco remained as stunning as ever. As did the parsnip fritti. The shell beans were also superb, with a texture that was neither al dente, nor doughy.
Sweetbreads were quite good, though I am not a huge sweetbreads person, I enjoyed the texture on them, as well as the savory sauce, and crispy pancetta which added not only an elegant contrast in texture, but also an important note of saltiness to them.
We also had one of the few dishes that has remained on the menu: the Moorish lamb shoulder chops. Just as great as I remember them from my first visit. These things are just insane. They come with the most pleasurably bright seasoning, and are grilled to a gorgeous pink. They manage to taste like incredible steaks. And when garnished with cilantro, fresh lemon, and a dab of the exquisite mint yogurt sauce, they are simply mind-blowing. We gnawed every last piece of the tangy meat off the bones.
We were too stuffed for dessert. We had a bottle of the $42 red wine on the menu, which was fantastic. The cheap bottles at Chi Spacca never seem to disappoint, which is awesome, since they also have $500+ bottles on their list. We also had some sour beer which we brought ourselves, and they didn't even charge us corkage.
Pro Tip for those who want to BYOB: even on wine, for every bottle you buy from them, they will give you free corkage on a bottle of wine you bring with you (corkage is normally $30/bottle otherwise).
We moved on to a plate of pecorino, candied walnuts, and honeycomb which comes from their own bee farm on top of the Mozza complex.
They have their own bee farm? Wow! Maybe May 2014 DoM can be HONEY.
Thanks for the thread, going tonight and can't wait! On the list is the charcuterie, foccacia, lamb (bf looking at the lamb neck), and meyer lemon panna cotta for dessert.
Entreee undecided for me, with the charcuterie and foccacia, we'll have a good sized appetizer (but that's what doggie bags for the foccacia are for). Maybe this new chicken and mussels or pork blade chop, as the tomahawk sounds massive.
"(but that's what doggie bags for the foccacia are for). "
Once you taste it, that's not going to happen =P
Unless you are a professional eater, there's no way you will be able to get close to finishing the 42 oz Tomahawk Chop by yourself. It probably wouldn't be that bad to take to go though.
FYI, I could be wrong, but the pork blade chop might not be on the menu anymore either. I don't remember seeing it on there last time I was there.
You guys might want to consider just splitting a Tomahawk though if it's your first time. It really is awesome.
Also, don't forget to order some pickles with your charcuterie board =)